Is Sudden Cardiac Arrest Rare?

Is Sudden Cardiac Arrest Rare?

August 17, 2023


On the morning of July 24th, 2023, news broke that the son of famous NBA star, Lebron James, Bronny James suffered a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). This was now the second time in one year that two popular athletes suffered a cardiac arrest playing their sport. Damar Hamlin, a safety for the Buffalo Bills, suffered a cardiac arrest only seven months prior as many watched on national television. It was also the second time in a year that a University of Southern California basketball player was victim to SCA.  Vincent Iwuchukwu, collapsed from cardiac arrest almost exactly one year prior to Bronny.
Even with the timeline in which these events occurred over the last year, frustratingly, much of the news coverage still deemed cardiac arrest as a rare event. Outlets all over the country covered this story, but many included terms like rare or uncommon. We disagree.


So, is SCA rare?

The short answer is no, cardiac arrest is not rare. SCA strikes every single day, all over the world, and affects all ages. According to the American Heart Association, more than 356,000 individuals suffer out of hospital cardiac arrest in the U.S. each year. If you break it down even further, that is approximately 975 cardiac arrest cases per day or about 40 cases per hour! This makes cardiac arrest more common than colorectal cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, auto accidents, AIDS, firearms, and house fires combined.


Cardiac Arrest Among Youth

Cardiac arrest is also common in young people. It is estimated that around 7,000 youth endure cardiac arrest each year, with a survival rate around 13 percent. The prevalence of SCA in youth makes it the number one killer of student-athletes and one of the top causes of death on school campuses. These statistics can be shocking, but it is important to understand that SCA can happen to anyone. Although very few cases are covered by the media, SCA still happens all the time to everyday people.

Although we have seen sudden cardiac arrest occur to two very prominent athletes, just this year, SCA has always happened. Families throughout the world have been devastated after losing a child to sudden cardiac arrest. Communities continue to feel shocked after losing a child to this silent killer.


The Takeaway

The biggest takeaway from these two very prominent (not rare) events is that a complete AED program can help save a life. These two sudden cardiac arrests occurred on the playing field and basketball court of highly funded organizations. We know that having an AED within 3 minutes, having people trained in CPR, having an emergency action plan, and having a plan to maintain your AED can significantly raise survival rates.


Sudden Cardiac Arrest is NOT rare.

It happens every day to people of all ages, races, and genders. We need to continue to improve our planning and ensure all youth have a chance to survive when sudden cardiac arrest strikes.

To learn more about Defibtech and to join us on our quest to save lives from sudden cardiac arrest, visit